Public relations: PR leagues Top 100

Worries over spend cuts, measurement techniques and the departure of leading lights have been the stories in a difficult year for the industry

Public relations consultancies have had it tough recently. Unprepared for recession, the PR industry spluttered its way through 2002 and there is little in this year's league table to suggest any significant improvement in 2003.

Similar to other marketing disciplines, a lack of ability to demonstrate return on investment has been fundamental to the problems suffered by PR during the downturn - although its suffering has been on a far greater scale than its counterparts. The reasons for the PR industry being hit so badly stem from long-held perceptions of PR as having a laissez-faire attitude toward measurement and evaluation techniques - elements rapidly becoming the lynchpin of agency-client relationships in the post-recession era.

Though the industry advocates that it is now working to a more delivery-driven mindset, it will take time for this to come to fruition. However, the steep learning curve that PR consultancies have encountered can only stand them in good stead for the future. Crispin Manners, chief executive of Kaizo and chairman of the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA), explains: 'The recession only accelerated a growing trend for clients to focus expenditure where it will deliver a valuable return.

Unfortunately, only a small number of PR firms made this connection tangible for clients. Others continued to believe that implicit delivery of value would be enough. If more agencies had made the implicit explicit, PR would have won a greater share of the marketing budget.'

The idea that had agencies been more explicit about measurement prior to the downturn all the suffering of recent years may have been spared also holds true for David McLaren, chairman of Hill & Knowlton.

'The PR recession of 2002 was the most severe experienced by any marketing services sector in my working lifetime,' he says. 'Everyone expected cutbacks but no one really knew how deep they would be. Sarbanes-Oxley (see box, page 43) makes it difficult to calibrate the drop, but I estimate it was down 15% year-on-year.

'One would have expected PR to gain share in a recessionary period, because of its greater cost-effectiveness and lower required investment. It is probable that the opposite happened. Advertising revenues dropped at a fifth of the rate of PR revenues, probably because most clients initially wanted to protect their main promotional channel. The reason for this is not new; the industry's Achilles heel is still its inability to show the causal relationship between PR input and marketplace effect affordably.'

While the majority may have found 2003 as hard as the previous year, there have been notable exceptions. David Gallagher, chief executive of Ketchum, proclaimed 2003 to be the agency's 'best year ever', with its organic growth equalled by revenue from new clients. The consultancy's relationship with Procter & Gamble undoubtedly helped, but account wins from the likes of Orange, Tango, Sony and GlaxoSmithKline made its rivals sit up and take note.

Gallagher puts the company's successes down to a more focused approach.

'We're much leaner than we were three years ago,' he says. 'Nothing is done purely for the sake of creativity without considering the impact of sales. Diversity across the client sector has helped, but the challenge has come from sticking to our knitting. It is a healthily competitive market and we need to be sophisticated to succeed - but not in terms of reinvention. There is a feeling that competition for briefs is more heated than it has been, with shortlists no longer being short. PR consultancies are ceasing to be pigeonholed by sector.'

Fishburn Hedges, which has enjoyed success in the public and private sector with accounts such as Barclays and the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA), is launching a consumer arm toward the end of 2004 to attract mass-market brands to its client portfolio.

'We've grown our core business by double digits every year and are confident we can maintain that,' says Neil Hedges, the consultancy's chief executive.

'We're keen to create opportunities and there is less of gap between private and consumer PR than there used to be. Our consumer arm will be separately branded, but the ideals to which we work will be the same.'

A spread of business has certainly helped The RED Consultancy beat the downturn, combining projects such as the launch of Marks & Spencer's branded credit card and work for McDonald's with contract activity for brands such as the DVLA.

Having made its name in the consumer sector, the firm's chief executive Mike Morgan attributes much of the success The RED Consultancy has achieved in spreading its wings to its selection to the COI Communications agency roster.

The COI has 26 PR agencies on its roster, which is reviewed every three to five years. The next review is this summer and the competition to get on the list has never been stronger, thanks to the sizeable contracts selection can lead to. In the financial year for 2002 to 2003, the COI's public relations and sponsorship budget increased to £10.3m - money that is spread across the agency roster according to the brief and demands of each individual project.

Traditionally pigeonholed by sector, agencies are breaking out of a mould they see as restrictive. Martin Bostock, managing director of Nelson Bostock Communications, which registered a 14% growth in fee income in 2003, explains: 'The crucial approach in terms of surviving the downturn has been in a refusal to be niched. On the one hand, we work for major consumer brands such as Bacardi-Martini, Swatch and Freeview, and on the other, we handle business-to-business players including Canon Europe and NTL. This spread of expertise and a broad client base reduces the risk of exposure to any particular industry sector.'

The harsh economic climate has made the need to cover a number of sector bases essential, with budgets attached to consumer PR being particularly badly hit. Having the staffing expertise to do this has been a fundamental issue for an industry for which the ability to invest in the future has been restricted to say the least.

'When the crash began to hit the PR industry in 2000, recruitment virtually stopped at a stroke,' says Bostock. 'There were massive redundancies and many people left the industry. This has left a gap at account manager level, because there aren't enough people with two or three years' solid experience. On top of that, the industry's overall image has rarely been lower, so fewer bright graduates are entering the sector. It all adds up to a chronic skills shortage.'

The problems created by the general freeze in recruitment over the past few years should have been avoided, according to Firefly director Claire Walker. 'Shame on those companies that didn't bring in new staff, no matter what the state of the market', she says. 'New people coming in keeps everyone on their toes. Staff satisfaction is vital because it adds motivation, which in turn creates client satisfaction'.

That Firefly continued to invest in employees despite undergoing a tough time due to the collapse of the technology services market, one of its core business areas, shows how important the firm considers the staffing issue.

PR is often referred to as a people business, but the fundamental truth behind the idea is providing cause for concern among the larger agency network. What began as a widely accepted smattering of senior staff jumping ship from the traditional giants of the sector to go it alone has evolved into a visible trend, with some major industry names leaving to launch their own start-up firms.

Among the high-profile individuals to make the move in recent months are Simon Cohen, formerly managing director of Bell Pottinger, who left to set up The PR Office; Angie Wiles, former head of healthcare at Cohn & Wolfe, who launched Virgo Health PR; and Hill & Knowlton's John Rivett and Dominic Shales, deputy chief executive and head of European new business respectively, who have created Paratus Communications. James Thellusson (former chief executive of Edelman) and Scott Clark (former managing director of Fleishman-Hillard) are also thought to be planning start-ups within the coming year. With the barriers to setting up shop so low, these start-ups will not be the last of their kind.

Paratus is perhaps the best example of the near-instant impact these fledgling companies can have on the industry after Rivett and Shales' venture landed a contract with National Lottery operator Camelot a mere five months after the agency's conception. The duo are quick to absolve their former employees of any blame for their exits, citing their reason for leaving Hill & Knowlton as a desire to 'do it our way' - a clear indication that the constraints of the large agency lifestyle can be too much to bear for some leading PRs.

'While everybody has his or her personal motives, there are probably a number of general reasons for this trend,' says Rivett. 'Many senior staff in large agencies are effectively running their own business already - just for someone else. In moving, many may want to see a more direct link between effort and reward. Now appears to be the best time in a few years to take the step to ownership. The forecast for the industry looks healthier than for the past three years at least. Perhaps most importantly, clients seem to be much more willing to consider working with smaller agencies. This business is all about trust and chemistry, and many good consultants are realising that they don't need to shelter behind an established name.'

The element of distrust for independent agencies has lessened on the client side, though this has yet to have an impact on the revenues of the large PR agencies. The depth and reach of resources of these companies has enabled them to continue to perform during an economic recession that claimed many of the financially weaker independents.

While independent agencies have some way to go before they are challenging the established elite, it is clear that clients are no longer afraid to dish out significant elements of their PR portfolio to less traditional sources. 'There is sometimes an extra hunger and desire from independents that you might not get from a big agency, as the need to establish themselves is greater,' explains Mark Gallagher, director of corporate affairs at Camelot. 'It's tricky to generalise, but it's hard to imagine a director of a large PR network coming to a press conference unless the relationship was at a critical stage. You get that level of concentration from independents - a feeling that they are entirely focused on your needs all of the time. Flexibility is also a key advantage. With no group restrictions on partners, they can be more adaptable and add value through innovation.'

The PR structure that Camelot has adopted - a mixture of agency, freelance consultants and in-house staff - is representative of an attractive mix for clients, which explains an overall increase in project work in the briefs put out to market. Such a split favours the independent agency approach and points to another staffing issue for the larger networks, given that a primary reason for churn of top-tier agency employees is the increasing number of in-house jobs available client-side.

'A lot depends on the approach taken by the communications director,' says Gallagher. 'National Lottery awareness is already high, so we're looking more at quality of coverage than increased awareness levels. Coming from this angle, it is much better to skew our work in-house because we don't need the depth of ranks that the agencies offer.'

It is too early to tell whether work will swing significantly from the large multi-faceted networks, although it is clear that there will always be a place for these companies given the depth of resource and reach they offer. However, there is a feeling that the mixture of in-house PR with project-based independent agency support is a proposition catching many clients' eyes.

With prospects looking brighter and the first quarter of 2004 providing an improved financial performance, the temptation is to suggest that the bad times are over. However, such a message should be treated warily, according to Julia Newton, director of Shine Communications, which enjoyed a successful 2003 thanks to new client business from brands such as BT, Egg and Heinz.

'It has been a tough couple of years for the industry and now that things are starting to pick up, the challenge will be for agencies to strike a balance between expansion and managing their growth sensibly,' she says.

'The temptation for companies that win some business could be to assume the good times are back and appoint 10 staff. This kind of rapid hiring can have a detrimental effect on company culture, particularly if they all have to fit in and then have to be fired six months later. In addition, if companies are taking on too much new business at one time it can often take the focus off existing clients, and this business may be lost. I think the challenge will be to make sensible planned business decisions and manage the industry expansion in a controlled way.'

While the Sarbanes-Oxley ruling makes it difficult to assess the overall performance of PR consultancies, agency fee income growth, particularly among the consultancy giants at the top of the league table, was sparse on the ground. As can be seen from the top 10 growth tables, the majority of success came in the middle ground, with some of the independent agencies finding life easier than their bigger counterparts.

Such performances will leave independents susceptible to strategic buy-out attempts as the established consultancies look to acquisition as a way to pull themselves fully out of the economic mire. The most high-profile example came recently, with Edelman acquiring Jackie Cooper PR. With combined billings approaching £15m, more than 160 employees and a client list boasting some of the biggest consumer brands in the UK, the entity created by the merger will undoubtedly be a force to be reckoned with.

TOP PR AGENCIES 1-100

Company Fee income Chng Turnover

2003(pounds) 2002(pounds) (%) 2003(pounds)

1 Bell Pottinger/Good 32,639,000 35,041,000 -7 88,952,000

Relations/Harvard

2 Hill & Knowlton* n/a 21,774,000 n/a 29,631,000

3 Financial Dynamics*+ n/a 20,708,000 n/a 23,972,000

4 Citigate 19,715,053 23,442,443 -16 134,081,434

5 Biss Lancaster n/a 17,426,030 n/a 24,637,458

Euro RSCG*

6 GCI/APCO* n/a 12,741,483 n/a 19,841,079

7 Countrywide Porter n/a 12,485,248 n/a 17,091,709

Novelli*

8 Ketchum* n/a 11,163,617 n/a 21,021,066

9 Edelman 10,935,349 14,563,087 -25 14,673,423

10 Fishburn Hedges*+ n/a 10,620,977 n/a 13,912,783

11 Weber Shandwick* n/a 8,893,000 n/a 15,233,000

12 College Hill 8,583,160 7,947,832 8 10,600,318

Associates

13 MediTech Media 8,050,832 6,789,295 19 11,889,837

14 The Red Consultancy 7,996,486 7,693,111 4 11,490,910

15 The Shire n/a 7,591,076 n/a 13,094,487

Health Group*

16 Fleishman-Hillard* n/a 7,376,871 n/a 13,318,006

17 Beattie 6,652,722 7,058,467 -6 7,440,782

Communications Group

18 Buchanan n/a 5,916,190 n/a 6,763,700

Communications*

19 Lewis Communications 5,534,339 5,486,466 1 5,853,538

20 Golin/Harris n/a 5,453,000 n/a 7,959,000

International*

21 Lansons 5,188,366 5,544,880 -6 6,182,294

Communications

22 Consolidated 5,181,985 4,871,362 6 6,696,553

Communications

23 Band & Brown 4,731,287 5,299,712 -11 6,211,996

Communications

24 Write Image 4,628,874 3,906,582 18 8,178,734

25 August.One 4,603,478 4,631,418 -1 5,248,594

Communications

26 Jackie Cooper PR 4,324,728 3,953,096 9 7,696,228

27 Nelson Bostock 4,022,728 3,516,480 14 5,644,074

Communications

28 Lexis Public 4,020,956 4,752,366 -15 6,027,723

Relations

29 Bite Communications 3,991,424 4,215,510 -5 4,592,383

30 TBWA UK Group* n/a 3,975,644 n/a 6,678,704

31 Firefly 3,838,266 5,568,833 -31 4,608,933

Communications

32 Portfolio Group 3,782,954 3,963,847 -5 4,204,566

33 PPS Group 3,659,845 4,300,922 -15 3,941,697

34 Munro & Forster 3,569,655 3,241,702 10 5,526,529

Communications

35 Camargue 3,527,613 3,659,619 -4 4,622,858

36 Brodeur Worldwide*+ n/a 3,426,369 n/a 5,359,995

37 The Communication 3,374,000 3,372,000 0 3,471,000

Group

38 M: Communications 3,060,000 n/a n/a 3,060,000

39 Ruder Finn UK 3,057,083 2,954,811 3 4,294,028

40 Citigate Public 3,031,508 3,890,188 -22 3,259,335

Affairs

41 Geronimo Public 2,826,730 1,903,577 48 3,499,425

Relations

42 Kaizo (incorporating 2,821,800 2,818,458 0 3,256,200

Beer Davies)

43 Golley Slater 2,621,192 2,427,667 8 3,272,458

Public Relations

44 Galliard Healthcare 2,464,283 2,777,000 -11 4,447,409

Communications

45 Penrose Financial 2,384,992 2,589,737 -8 2,672,383

46 BMA Communications 2,268,409 2,593,775 -13 4,146,030

47 Brahm Public 2,218,268 1,956,038 13 4,768,670

Relations

48 Ptarmigan Consultants 2,177,166 1,993,901 9 3,173,055

49 The BIG Partnership 2,071,471 1,440,125 44 2,201,629

50 Brands2Life 2,034,126 1,332,303 53 2,034,126

51 EHPR 2,029,581 2,027,982 0 3,117,493

52 Axicom 1,994,836 2,605,852 -23 2,249,254

53 Text 100 1,896,042 1,761,166 8 2,184,804

International

54 ICAS PR 1,870,496 1,852,357 1 2,737,090

55 Four Communications 1,834,723 982,271 87 2,040,452

56 Insight Marketing 1,829,000 1,880,000 -3 2,076,000

and Communications

57 Red Door 1,828,725 904,547 102 2,544,506

Communications

58 AS Biss & Co 1,813,277 1,667,570 9 2,011,427

59 Shine Communications 1,806,810 1,501,567 20 2,697,135

60 BGB & Associates+ 1,804,228 1,977,209 -9 2,323,594

61 Colman Getty PR 1,738,118 1,404,671 24 1,888,118

62 Medicom Group 1,667,800 1,020,480 63 4,100,000

63 Green Issues 1,613,966 1,029,949 57 1,685,992

Communications

64 Hotwire 1,603,624 1,385,564 16 2,142,828

65 AD Communications+ 1,588,231 1,506,091 5 2,570,585

66 B2B Communications 1,563,714 1,450,013 8 4,405,840

67 Sinclair Mason 1,555,620 1,453,980 7 2,145,683

68 Atlas Media Group 1,551,020 1,318,567 18 3,245,241

69 Kinross & Render 1,471,410 1,824,024 -19 2,204,799

70 Purple Public 1,468,445 1,260,167 17 1,918,897

Relations

71 Lawson Dodd 1,453,034 1,531,531 -5 1,453,034

72 Republic 1,451,075 1,519,648 -5 1,896,943

73 Counsel Public 1,435,080 1,602,715 -10 2,231,638

Relations

74 Flagship Consulting 1,427,343 1,540,585 -7 1,512,458

75 Companycare 1,415,924 1,421,603 0 1,628,131

Communications

76 Haslimann Taylor 1,404,431 1,127,308 25 1,858,995

77 The Whiteoaks 1,356,593 1,430,682 -5 1,356,593

Consultancy

78 Johnson King+ 1,320,391 2,126,545 -38 1,320,391

79 Grandfield 1,316,526 1,765,126 -25 1,471,990

80 Myriad Public 1,297,431 1,187,404 9 1,892,061

Relations

81 The ITPR Group 1,284,842 881,489 46 1,589,542

82 Spreckley Partners 1,270,655 1,404,152 -10 1,814,924

83 Camron Public 1,270,539 1,149,943 10 1,674,443

Relations

84 Rainier PR 1,259,208 1,076,551 17 1,259,208

85 Strategy 1,242,446 1,008,063 23 1,480,168

Communications

86 Eulogy! 1,196,724 1,202,181 0 1,196,724

87 Quay West 1,184,300 1,235,475 -4 1,315,600

Communications

88 Halogen 1,177,225 994,191 18 2,606,093

89 Cairns & Assocs (UK) 1,176,965 700,245 68 1,733,138

90 Seal Communications 1,135,946 1,021,539 11 2,911,713

91 Willoughby PR 1,115,804 922,251 21 1,778,247

92 Frank Public 1,114,227 814,226 37 1,488,385

Relations

93 Focus PR 1,101,101 883,828 25 1,462,927

94 Henry's House 1,097,352 1,051,750 4 1,097,352

95 Resolute 1,088,819 581,893 87 1,131,587

Communications

96 Ashley 1,071,806 859,775 25 2,299,082

Communications

97 Fox Parrack Hirsch 1,050,000 865,201 21 9,100,000

98 Darwall Smith 1,038,283 932,592 11 1,997,622

Associates

99 Phipps PR 1,016,659 1,447,120 -30 1,990,298

100 Berkeley PR 1,007,283 1,118,068 -10 1,037,018

International

Company Staff Clients Location

2003 2002 Retainer Project

1 Bell Pottinger/Good 335 337 410 326 London

Relations/Harvard

2 Hill & Knowlton* n/a 261 n/a n/a London

3 Financial Dynamics*+ n/a 145 n/a n/a London

4 Citigate 253 282 317 274 London

5 Biss Lancaster n/a 163 n/a n/a London

Euro RSCG*

6 GCI/APCO* n/a 200 n/a n/a London

7 Countrywide Porter n/a 170 n/a n/a London

Novelli*

8 Ketchum* n/a 131 n/a n/a London

9 Edelman 103 122 48 170 London

10 Fishburn Hedges*+ n/a 97 n/a n/a London

11 Weber Shandwick* n/a 153 n/a n/a London

12 College Hill 87 82 132 27 London

Associates

13 MediTech Media 134 132 16 n/a London

14 The Red Consultancy 112 106 55 27 London

15 The Shire n/a 80 n/a n/a London

Health Group*

16 Fleishman-Hillard* n/a 103 n/a n/a London

17 Beattie 111 126 143 35 Falkirk

Communications Group

18 Buchanan n/a 33 n/a n/a London

Communications*

19 Lewis Communications 123 102 130 25 London

20 Golin/Harris n/a 74 n/a n/a London

International*

21 Lansons 57 65 68 10 London

Communications

22 Consolidated 87 75 37 25 London

Communications

23 Band & Brown 66 65 25 40 London

Communications

24 Write Image 113 108 37 45 London

25 August.One 67 60 21 20 London

Communications

26 Jackie Cooper PR 61 57 26 12 London

27 Nelson Bostock 52 49 49 12 London

Communications

28 Lexis Public 62 63 24 14 London

Relations

29 Bite Communications 56 57 39 20 London

30 TBWA UK Group* n/a 55 n/a n/a London

31 Firefly 52 72 58 12 London

Communications

32 Portfolio Group 56 55 129 139 London

33 PPS Group 37 44 36 101 London

34 Munro & Forster 52 50 43 12 London

Communications

35 Camargue 44 56 44 63 London

36 Brodeur Worldwide*+ n/a 44 n/a n/a London

37 The Communication 37 37 37 28 London

Group

38 M: Communications 17 4 12 9 London

39 Ruder Finn UK 46 46 22 12 London

40 Citigate Public 41 38 95 40 London

Affairs

41 Geronimo Public 38 27 13 6 London

Relations

42 Kaizo (incorporating 41 40 34 35 London

Beer Davies)

43 Golley Slater 43 41 112 38 Cardiff

Public Relations

44 Galliard Healthcare 22 26 16 4 London

Communications

45 Penrose Financial 28 27 37 7 London

46 BMA Communications 22 20 25 2 London

47 Brahm Public 22 19 31 16 Leeds

Relations

48 Ptarmigan Consultants 46 44 32 4 Leeds

49 The BIG Partnership 36 27 41 14 Glasgow

50 Brands2Life 29 22 26 3 London

51 EHPR 34 36 16 2 Berkshire

52 Axicom 20 21 44 n/a London

53 Text 100 37 29 27 5 London

International

54 ICAS PR 28 28 42 17 London

55 Four Communications 26 16 25 6 London

56 Insight Marketing 36 34 25 11 Cheshire

and Communications

57 Red Door 23 15 14 n/a London

Communications

58 AS Biss & Co 25 23 39 20 London

59 Shine Communications 25 25 27 13 London

60 BGB & Associates+ 36 45 35 10 London

61 Colman Getty PR 22 19 32 47 London

62 Medicom Group 20 20 3 18 Surrey

63 Green Issues 19 12 1 95 Reading

Communications

64 Hotwire 22 19 26 7 London

65 AD Communications+ 16 20 31 10 Surrey

66 B2B Communications 20 16 8 4 Surrey

67 Sinclair Mason 15 17 35 20 Leeds

68 Atlas Media Group 29 24 34 55 Leeds

69 Kinross & Render 23 30 16 11 London

70 Purple Public 27 25 35 29 London

Relations

71 Lawson Dodd 14 18 16 8 London

72 Republic 19 20 20 8 London

73 Counsel Public 17 18 15 4 London

Relations

74 Flagship Consulting 18 18 26 11 London

75 Companycare 22 25 34 18 Reading

Communications

76 Haslimann Taylor 25 24 22 9 W Midlands

77 The Whiteoaks 32 34 35 7 Surrey

Consultancy

78 Johnson King+ 20 24 20 5 London

79 Grandfield 12 16 26 18 London

80 Myriad Public 22 21 51 0 Cambs

Relations

81 The ITPR Group 20 15 29 4 Surrey

82 Spreckley Partners 18 21 28 0 London

83 Camron Public 25 25 22 4 London

Relations

84 Rainier PR 9 9 32 15 London

85 Strategy 22 21 26 15 Bristol

Communications

86 Eulogy! 14 14 20 3 London

87 Quay West 17 19 18 3 Essex

Communications

88 Halogen 21 19 40 31 London

89 Cairns & Assocs (UK) 14 12 11 4 London

90 Seal Communications 30 24 24 10 Birmingham

91 Willoughby PR 25 22 24 18 Birmingham

92 Frank Public 17 13 19 28 London

Relations

93 Focus PR 19 18 20 11 London

94 Henry's House 19 19 17 15 London

95 Resolute 14 12 10 5 London

Communications

96 Ashley 10 7 4 5 Middlesex

Communications

97 Fox Parrack Hirsch 9 8 8 1 London

98 Darwall Smith 20 19 7 1 London

Associates

99 Phipps PR 15 28 17 13 London

100 Berkeley PR 20 24 26 2 Berkshire

International

TOP 10 FOR GROWTH - BIG AGENCIES

Rank Company Fee income (pounds) Change

2003 2002 (%)

1 Brands2Life 2,034,126 1,332,303 53

2 Geronimo Public Relations 2,826,730 1,903,577 48

3 The BIG Partnership 2,071,471 1,440,125 44

4 MediTech Media 8,050,832 6,789,295 19

5 Write Image 4,628,874 3,906,582 18

6 Nelson Bostock Comms 4,022,728 3,516,480 14

7 Brahm Public Relations 2,218,268 1,956,038 13

8 Munro & Forster Comms 3,569,655 3,241,702 10

9 Jackie Cooper PR 4,324,728 3,953,096 9

10 Ptarmigan Consultants 2,177,166 1,993,901 9

TOP 10 FOR GROWTH - SMALL AGENCIES

Rank Company Fee income (pounds) Change

2003 2002 (%)

1 Red Door Comms 1,828,725 904,547 102

2 Resolute Comms 1,088,819 581,893 87

3 Four Communications 1,834,723 982,271 87

4 Cairns & Associates (UK) 1,176,965 700,245 68

5 Medicom Group 1,667,800 1,020,480 63

6 Green Issues Comms 1,613,966 1,029,949 57

7 The ITPR Group 1,284,842 881,489 46

8 Frank Public Relations 1,114,227 814,226 37

9 Ashley Communications 1,071,806 859,775 25

10 Focus PR 1,101,101 883,828 25

THE SARBANES-OXLEY EFFECT

For companies affected by the US Sarbanes-Oxley Act, designed to clamp down on financial misinformation, we have used Companies House data provided by Willott Kingston Smith. In most cases this data has been for the 2002 financial year, except for Buchanan Communications, for which the most recent figures were for 2001. We have taken as read that information filed in Companies House as gross income is equivalent to fee income.

All Sarbanes-Oxley-affected companies are listed under their group names and figures as opposed to individually by their constituting subsidiaries.

Agencies for which no financial data could be found are Burson-Marsteller, Cohn & Wolfe, Grayling, Manning Selvage & Lee, and Ogilvy.

PRCA - CONSULTANCY MANAGEMENT STANDARD

To convince clients that it is worthy of increased investment, PR must prove that it can deliver on its promises. No single entity is doing more than the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA) in dragging PR toward a more enhanced state of self-evaluation.

Under pressure from members to deliver more, the PRCA has recognised the need to set certain standards of practice. This guidance has taken the form of the Consultancy Management Standard.

The Standard is a clear differentiator of agencies that provides clients with a range of assurances on quality, delivery, professionalism and ongoing performance - certification of which is only achieved after the agency has undergone rigorous auditing.

In auditing an agency, the focus of the investigation is on two core business areas - campaign management and client satisfaction. In both disciplines, the agency must demonstrate the ability to reach agreed targets in order to pass and be awarded membership of the PRCA. At last count about 120 agencies had achieved the Standard, with a further 10 in the process of being audited.

This stamp of approval has done much to sharpen the minds of agencies toward measuring and delivering a return on investment and has the benefit of turning PRCA membership into a symbol of best practice.

With this system now in place, the PRCA has turned its attention to establishing guidelines on the briefing process to raise the bar for clients and consultancies.

Done in association with the other members of the Communications Agencies Federation, this work is proving valuable in developing an integrated approach from both sides of the fence.

Discussion

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now

Latest

Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers
Ex-M&S marketing chief Steven Sharp consulting at WPP
Wolff Olins reveals new CEO after Apple poaches Karl Heiselman
Glasgow offers £30,000 prize to best digital idea for 2014 Commonwealth Games
Google's revenues surge but shares drop as it grapples with transition to mobile
Facebook beats Twitter to most 'marketing friendly' social media site crown, says DMA
Fableists believe children like Finn should be outdoors enjoying life
Homebase, Baileys and Camelot join the line-up at Media360
MasterCard renews Rugby World Cup sponsorship to push cashless message
Lynx unleashes £9m 'Peace invasion' campaign
Social Brands 100 Youth: Pizza Hut most social youth brand in UK
Cheryl Cole is wild and arresting in new L'Oreal work
Morrisons told not to show alcohol ads during YouTube nursery rhymes
O2 head of brand Shadi Halliwell departs after 23 years at company in restructure
Tesco hit by further sales decline as it turns to digital Clubcard and social network
Branding guru Wally Olins dies aged 83
Duracell short film captures epic Transatlantic voyage
Ash runs Tinder experiment to show smokers are less desirable to opposite sex
British Airways teams up with Gerry Cottle Jnr for summer of rooftop film screenings
Arklu says 'girls can be superheroes too' with doll design competition
Coke enters squash market with Oasis Mighty Drops
Virgin Galactic signs up Land Rover as space flight sponsor
Motorola marketer Andrew Morley departs as Google gears up for sale to Lenovo
US Airways apologises after tweeting obscene image at a customer
Mumsnet admits users' emails and passwords accessed via Heartbleed bug
Thetrainline.com backs 'rubbish' mobile app with TV ad